Mar 23, 2023

"Zero's Tea Time": Two Guys Flirt in a Restaurant, Probably.


The promo to Zero's Tea-Time shows two guys in a restaurant together, no doubt on a date.  Enough gay potential for me to investigate further.

It's a anime with 6 episodes, each 15 minutes long (including a 5-minute intro).  Netflix keeps track of everything you've watched, even for a few minutes, since the beginning of time, and apparently I watched 3/4ths of the first episode.  But I remember nothing about it, so I'm going in fresh.  The two guys in the restaurant scene is from Episode 3, entitled "Time 3."

A blond guy serves tea, shoots a gun, brushes his teeth (chest shot), types into a computer while sitting in a dark alley.  

He or another blond guy makes eggs at Coffee Poirot ("Amuro Toru"), then shoots a gun ("Private Eye"), walks down the street in a business suit ("Furuya Rei"), plays baseball ("Tomisiro").  Apparently he has four personas: they all appear together as "Zero!" 

You think the intro is over?  Nope, the four personae appear again, one at a time, doing their individual tasks, and Detective Conan (the boy-detective who apparently appears in every Japanese anime ever produced) invites us to "enjoy a slice of Amuro Toro's life."   So this episode is about the barista persona?

Scene 1: Furuya Rei (Business Suit Persona) drinks coffee at a red light while telling a woman on the phone that the case is closed, thanks to Detective Mouri.  Ugh, slow camera pan of her caressing her legs in the bathtub!  She pauses to caress her boob and bring a rose petal seductively to her lips.  This is straight porn!  But I sat through the entire 5-minute long intro, so I'm sticking with it.

She wonders if he is going to give up "following him," now that the case is over?  Nope, he's even more intrigued by the "sleeping Kogaru." 

Scene 2: As Rei walks up to his apartment, the woman seductively gets out of the bath tub, wraps a towel around herself, and notes that she's having trouble falling asleep at night. He suggests: not taking a bath before bed, no cell phones or laptops, and no alcohol: try Ume Kombucha instead. During the suggestions, the camera lingers on her legs as she drops the towel and puts on lingerie.  Boy, was I mistaken!  This is all disgusting horny hetero male gaze dreck!

Scene 3: The porn over, Rei gets on his computer and pulls up a photo of a smiling older man with his arms around two teenage boys, one blond, both looking angry.  His dad and brother? Then some military guys clowning.  He apparently falls asleep.

Scene 4: Four guys in suits tell him "You're late."  Rei, now named Zero, wakes up at 5:00 am, in bed (partial chest shot).  He goes to work at the Cafe Poirot and complains to his girl coworker that he didn't sleep well.  She suggest Ume Kombucha.

Scene 5:  A motorcycle cop tries to pull over a suspect, and is so surprised to see a standard Detective Conan shadow-being villain that he crashes.  Rei/Zero, now Hoodie Guy, rushes to the rescue.  Wait -- he's not performing first aid, he's stealing the cop's motorcycle!  He apprehends the shadow-being, ties him up, and calls the police.

Scene 6:
Kazami, a black-haired guy in a business suit, reciting longitudes and latitudes into a cell phone.  He enters the Dondi Tea Shop; there are no free tables, so the host asks if he can share Rei's  So, not on a date, just strangers who happen to be sharing a table. 

Kazami states that the police are looking for the guy who stole the cop's motorcycle to chase the shadow-being villain yesterday.  He's suspicious because Rei knows too much about the case.  But they are distracted when the waitress appears: Kazami orders the extra-spicy curry.  The waitress warns that it's extra-spicy, but he'll lose face if he says no now.  

When their food arrives, Kazami is shocked that Rei adds potato to his curry: it enhances the texture and flavor. 

In order to impress Rei, Kazami tries to add red fukujinzuki to his extra-spicy curry.  Rei suggests sour white rocio instead. But it's still too hot!  He reaches for the water, but Rei warns that it won't help: the capsacin that creates the hotness is oil based, so water will just make it hotter.  Always wait until you are finished to drink.  

They finish.  Kazami, suffering, red-faced, his ears smoking, drinks a whole pitcher of water.   He says "I'm sorry you had to see me like this.'  Wait -- I thought they were strangers?   Rei chuckles.  

Five Minute Closing Credits:   A white-haired little boy appears as a constellation, then gradually becomes human.  Rei in a business suit walks down the street, then goes home to cry on his futon, while the singer tells us to "Find your truth."  He then plays the guitar, stares out over the ocean, and closes his laptop. 

What Did I Just Watch?  Tips for falling asleep at night and eating spicy food, a naked lady taking a bath, and a guy trying to impress a stranger in a tea shop, maybe with gay text or subtext intent.    I didn't really see a story, or even part of an ongoing story.  I'd better watch some more episodes.

Episode 4: A shadow-being has been stealing things from TV star Yoko's dressing room.  Rei chases him across the set of a game-show obstacle course.  Then a little boy asks the teenage girl he's crushing on to teach him how to ride a bike, but she pawns him off onto Rei.  At first he rebels, but Furuma gradually wins him over.  No tips, but no naked ladies, either.

Episode 5:
  Scary-looking FBI agent Andre Camel has come to Japan to track down the Black Organization (probably mentioned in an earlier episode, or somewhere else in the Detective Conan Universe).  He drops into the Poirot Cafe, and is shocked to see Rei, his arch-nemesis. They discuss coffee, sandwich ingredients, and the American custom of taking coffee breaks ("Lazy jerks!  I'll bet you get to work later than 6 am and leave earlier than midnight!)  

Later, Andre is upset because his car almost got trapped when the street was closed off for a fireworks festival.  But he gets to see the fireworks.  Rei watches, too, and is depressed. Next, Rei meets a dog.

What Did I Just Watch?  So these are just brief slice-of-life anecdotes, not really connect to any ongoing plot?  Or maybe you have to be an expert on the Detective Conan-verse to understand how they fit into an plot arc that extends across multiple mangas and animes.  Coming into the party late, I'm a bit bewildered.  

Beefcake: Glimpses of Rei's body, but totally overwhelmed by the luxuriating gaze at the naked lady.

Gay Characters: The restaurant scene still strikes me as the two guys flirting.  

Will I Keep Watching:  If the lady keeps her clothes on.

Mar 21, 2023

Donelan: It's a Gay Life

When I was in grad school in Bloomington in 1982 and 1983, I was able to get copies of The Advocate at the adult bookstore.  One of my favorite features was a series of single-panel New Yorker-style cartoons, "It's a Gay Life," by Donelan,  lampooning the culture of 1970s gay neighborhoods: brunch, boyfriends, leathermen, queens, cruising, decorating, activism....

"Oh, please, girlfriend.  Isn't brunch a little too early for attitude?"

Some cartoons were about the reaction of straights, those who knew -- and were ok with it.  In a clueless, stereotyping way.

"I know a homosexual.  George knows a homosexual.  You must have so much in common.  So here we are.

Others who didn't know, and didn't want to know.

"Did your roommate just say he was going to 'freshen his makeup'?"

I was most drawn to the cartoons depicting gay men in pairs and groups.  There was a whole society out there somewhere, a place where being gay was commonplace, even expected, where straights were the interlopers and strangers.

"I'd be more impressed if you could name me one man here you haven't dated."

I wanted that world.

Gerald P. Donelan grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and moved to San Francisco in the 1970s.  He published "It's a Gay Life" from 1978 to 1993.  There were two  reprints of his cartoons: Drawing on the Gay Experience (1987) and Donelan's Back (1988).  His work also appeared in Frontiers and in the Meatmen series of gay comic anthologies.

Today his work seems a bit dated, keying into feminine stereotypes a bit too much.  But in the height of the homophobic 1980s, it was a revelation.

"Tell me again the difference between eclectic and tacky."

See also: Howard Cruse.

Heterosexism and Gay Erasure on Netflix at 4:00 AM

 For all the increased representation of LGBT persons in contemporary media, most tv shows and movies continue to promote universal heterosexual desire,  Sometimes it's a matter of amnesia: the showrunners simply forget that LGBT people exist.  Sometimes they figure that LGBT people are "too controversial" for prime time.  And sometimes they exercise artistic license, thinking "It's my universe -- why should I include people I hate?"  I investigated this phenomenon on the list of "New Releases" on Netflix, excluding game shows, documentaries, and reality tv.

1. IWGP, a "gritty" Japanese drama: a carefree guy having fun in Tokyo gets involved with a murder case.  In later episodes he infiltrates a pyramid scene, investigates a kidnapping, and becomes a bodyguard.  No girlfriends mentioned, so maybe it's ok.

 Episode 1, Scene 1: the carefree guy is in a restroom stall, masturbating to pictures of naked girls.  That was fast!  Next

2. Luther: The Fallen Sun.  A disgraced former cop (does any other kind appear in these things:), haunted by a murder gets involved with the hunt for a sadistic serial killer (does any other kind appear in these things?).  The promo shows the disgraced former cop and his lady friend walking across ice.  Next!

3. You: The fourth season of an impossible-to-google  tale of a stalker (Penn Badgley, top photo, I think) whose victims fall in love with him, or something.  Might as well give it a try.

Ugh! The recap prior to Episode 1 shows 8,300 men and women swallowing each others' tongues in tight closeups.  Next!

4. Have a Nice Day: A retired radio dj bags groceries to earn enough money to attend his former employer's anniversary party, where he hopes to reunite with the Love of His Life."  Since when do you have to pay when you're invited to a party?  And couldn't he just send her a text?   

I'm assuming that the Love is a woman, but on the off chance, I check Decider. There are two hetero-romances going on!  Next!

5. Faraway
, a "heartfelt" comedy about a middle-aged woman who moves to "faraway" Croatia to meet the Man of Her Dreams.  The promo shows two local guys, maybe a father and son, commenting on how incredibly sexy she is.  Next!

6. Student of the Year:
An Indian movie about two high school boys (who look around 35) competing to win the Girl of Their Dreams.  Yawn.  Why is it always a competition?  Just ask a girl out, and if she says no, go on to the next one.  There are plenty out there.

7. Do Your Worst: A South African actress with problems.  In the promo, she is shown in bed with another woman.  Are they lovers, or is it common in South Africa to share your bed with buds?

Research reveals that they're friends, competitors over acting jobs and boyfriends.

8. Jolly Roger: A film noir from Nigeria.  The promo shows a man in bed with a woman, and then shooting someone.  "Let's get his hetero identity out of the way right from the start!" Next!

9. Love to Hate You: A lady attorney who hates men falls for a male actor who hates women.  Let the fighting-flirting begin!  Next!

Enough is enough.  I'll move on to Hulu.

10. Freakish:
High school kids on Saturday detention fight zombies, so Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead.

No promo.  I'll just start with Episode 1.  A high school boy (maybe Leo Howard?) arrives at Saturday detention.  The monitor wonders why he's there: he's not on the list.  He glances back at the Girl of His Dreams.  The monitor breaks into a huge grin, agrees that she is incredibly sexy (inappropriate for a teacher, dude!) and effusively congratulates him on being heterosexual.  

I don't get it.  If everyone in this world is heterosexual, why is the monitor so overjoyed to discover that this kid is heterosexual?  

I shoulda stayed in bed.

Mar 20, 2023

Bob Morane: James Bond without the Girls

When I was in high school in the 1970s, French class offered a practically infinite amount of beefcake-and-bonding riches.  If you tired of the Green Library, you could always move on to the Marabout Junior series, which featured adventurer Bob Morane.

Bob Morane was a former RAF pilot who worked as a reporter and freelance adventurer, often accepting secret-agent or detective assignments.  In later volumes he worked for the Time Patrol, going back to dinosaur times or fighting androids in outer space.

 There weren't a lot of illustrations, but those the books had displayed Bob with a massive chest, usually when one of the bad guys (such as Ming "The Yellow Shadow") had him strung up for weird torture.

Bob's best buddy, a Scotch bodybuilder  usually traveled with him to provide the gay subtexts, and get strung up for a series of "my hero!" rescues.

Ok, there were some girls. But I don't remember Bob actually having sex, and the girl-chasing was minimal, far less than in James Bond.

Belgian author Henri Vernes published 12 volumes of Bob Morane's adventures (1958-67).  Most have been translated into English. There have also been over 100 bandes-dessinee (which I haven't read), a 1964-5 tv series (with Claude Titre as Bob Morane and Billy Kearns as Bob Ballantine), a 1998 animated series, and some tie-in video games and toys.

Grit: Beefcake and Bonding in an Attic in Rural Indiana

Every summer, and sometimes at Christmas, we visited my Grandma Davis in Indiana.  She had an attic full of old magazines, and my brother and I used to spend rainy afternoons there, leafing through half a century worth of browning ephemera.

Today I get the impression of someone who longed for an urbane, sophisticated life as an artist in Jazz Age New York, but somehow found herself in a farmhouse in rural Indiana, with a husband who was gone weeks at a time, and spent her life lapsing between attempts to rebel and attempts to adapt:

Rebellion:  Nash's, Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post

Adaption: Better Homes and Gardens, The Farmer's Wife, Grit


Who would name a newspaper after that gross stuff that gets in your eye after you sleep?

Maybe it was grits, the gross Southern food made out of boiled corn.

It was like a tabloid newspaper, with lots of human interest stories: a blind guy who works as a postal carrier, a woman who found her lost wedding ring in an egg laid by her chicken, a traffic accident that reunited a father and his long-lost son.

Nothing that took place anything near a city: in the world of Grit, no settlement with a population over 2,000 exist in the U.S.

No foreign countries exist, either.  Or black people.  Or Jews.  Or women who weren't housewives.  Or gay men and lesbians.

But -- there were a lot of cute 4-H Boys holding up prize sheep, providing a hint of beefcake on rainy rural afternoons.

Here's a shirtless boy in a bunkhouse at the Millstone 4-H Camp in Ellerbee, North Carolina, 1961.

There were also pages of comic strips, some the old-fashioned dinosaur strips familiar from the Rock Island Argus -- Blondie Prince Valiant, Out Our Way -- and some even older.

Beefcake titles like  Jungle Jim, Mandrake the Magician, and Flash Gordon.

Very nice physique, for a guy from the 1930s with his head wrapped in a plastic bag.

Here's an ad from Grit about selling Grit.  

$6 in 1956 is the equivalent of $50 today.  Not a bad source of income.

Grit was founded in 1885 by German immigrant Dietrich Lamade.  It was especially popular in the 1930s and 1940s, with over 400,000 weekly subscribers, competing favorably with newspapers that wouldn't deliver to rural areas.

The decline of the rural population after World War II, and competition from radio and television, led to a nosedive in subscriptions.  By 2000, there were less than 10,000 subscribers, mostly elderly.

Under new management, Grit has rebranded itself  as a bimonthly blog and print magazine for food and gardening enthusiasts, with articles on free range chickens, hybrid tomatoes, and lawn mower maintenance.

The new Grit is more inclusive, with racial and religious minorities, urban dwellers, and gay men and lesbians:

"Who do you call when you have an animal in trouble?  The ladies next door are at work, and I can no longer phone the gay guys down the street because they have me blocked since we had a shouting match about being invited to a Pampered Chef party, so I call the SPCA."

 It has over 150,000 subscribers.

Mar 19, 2023

Lankybox: AKA Roblox Ultmate Mishmash. Confused Yet?


Hulu is trying to sell me on "Lankybox: AKA Roblox superstars Justin and Adam star in a new edition of Lankybox Ultimate Mishmash."  I have no idea what most of those words mean, but the promo shows two over-emotional teenage boys surrounded by animated toaster beings.  Apparently they recorded each other playing a video game called Roblox: Adopt me! Plus! and called it a tv series. 

I feel like I'm a linguist trying to decipher an unknown language.  On closer examination, it appears that the video game is called just Roblox: Adopt Me.  Among the game's activities are the Noob vs. Pro vs. Hacker challenge, the Last to Say No Challenge, the Buy Everything My Friend Touches challenge, and the Lost Memory Challenge.

The "plus" refers to other events in the episode: they play Roblox: Fashion Famous, Among Us, and Minecraft. 

Ordinarily I would give it a hard pass -- what's the fun in watching someone else play a game?  But in the promos the two look over-the-top flamboyant, and their created world is full of pastels and rainbows and pink unicorns.  They have got to be gay.  So I'll look at -- and try to decipher -- the episode 

It consists of six scenes, bookended by a tv-being with a bandage on its head announcing that "you've just watched the Lankybox Roblox Ultimate Mishmash."  And then "It's time for more Lankybox Roblox Ultimate Mishmash." In case you are confused about what you are watching, which I am.

Scene 1: Adam and Justin (who has pink hair and is wearing a furry costume) discuss how to create cool backgrounds on Zoom.  Justin makes one with a gyrating, pink-haired "friend." Adam makes one of a salad, which he pretends to eat.  

Scene 2: They begin playing Roblex by creating avatars of themselves with tiny tv people on their shoulders.  They enter a virtual classroom.  A third person enters, so he can be the teacher.  More people enter.  This is very hard to watch, since action is occuring in the virtual classroom and both the zoom rooms simultaneously, with each avatar having tiny texts over their heads saying "Newborn" or "In Family," plus their names, and people in chatrooms saying "Merry Christmas" and "Penguin" over and over,  But I think they are playing school, with the "teacher" asking them to spell words like "carrot." 

Scene 3: Now they are alone in the classroom, with a giant chicken playing the teacher.  More spelling lesson: Correct this sentence: "I luv chicken."  Adam: "I love salad."  Wrong.  Justin: "I love chicken, not stinky salads." Right.

Scene 4: They try to build a home gym in their virtual world, but it doesn't sell gym equipment, so they improvise, "curling" with toy elephants and unicorns.  In the zoom room, Justin "curls" chicken nuggets and macaroni.  They go out into the virtual world and interact with dozens of other players, each with name tags and sentences zooming over their heads.  If this is trying to make me interested in playing the game for real, it is failing.

Scene 5: The guys are together, not in a zoom room. In the virtual world, they test cars to see which is the fastest.  Then they climb into a real-life car, but instead of driving, they continue to play the game.

Scene 6: The guys in a real life room. Justin announces that he's going to unveil a Lanky Rara, while Adam squeals in delight. It's a toy car that toddlers can pretend to drive.  Are they trying to sell this product?

Scene 7: They return to the virtual world to buy their car.  The end, I think.

What did I just watch?  And why?  Oh, right, to see if the guys are gay.

They are:

1. Justin Kroma (real name Justin Leon Xu), 29 years old -- huh?  He acts about 12!  No gay/straight information is given on the LankyBox Wiki.  Huh?  There's a Lankybox Wiki?   Except that he's single.

2. Adam McArthur, 26 years old!   According to the Lankybox Wiki, he has an ex-girlfriend and a kid, so he's straight, just way flamboyant.  

Wikiwatt has a photo of the two coming out, but it's apparently fake.

The website SDLGBTN has an article called "Examining the Evidence that Adam is Gay," but it's just clickbait, giving you basic background information about the guys' youtube channel.  

Like it has 200 million subscribers!  I can't imagine why.  Remember when a tv series took the combined efforts of writers, actors, directors, technical crew, producers, and advertisers, not just two guys with a laptop?  I think I'll trot over to the Good Old Days Channel for some episodes of I Love Lucy.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...